DATELINE: Stars Die to Save Humanity
We heard that the premise of this old disaster movie was actually based on a government plan of what would happen in an Extinction Level Event. The first 20 minutes of this film are marvelous, intelligent, and suddenly undone.
Its special effects are not bad, even by today’s hyped-up computer special-effects level of distinction. Yet, there is something sadly wasteful about the movie. And, some of the scenes are way off: World Trade Center meets a horrible fictional end.
Oh, this disaster had a woman director, Mimi Leder and was produced by Stephen Spielberg and Richard Zanuck. The film throws some great performers into the mix in small, unimportant roles: Vanessa Redgrave and Maximilian Schell are not given much to do as Tea Leoni’s parents. Why are they there, except for a paycheck?
Morgan Freeman plays an Obama-style president ten years before Obama actually became the first black president. You can throw in James Cromwell for a few minutes, and Elijah Wood looks downright adolescent as the kid who first discovers the deadly impact is coming on his small telescope.
Oh, you will see Jon Favreau and Blair Underwood as Robert Duvall’s astronaut crew—and Leelee Sobleski hangs around too.
All these wonderful performers were faced with a deplorable situation: and it wasn’t the plot. It was a bad music score that often drowns out their most dramatic moments and lines. Who decided to Mickey Mouse the film like it was a Road Runner cartoon?
Most fans of disaster will hang around to see the world crumble. It’s 1997, folks, so the World Trade Center is standing until a tidal wave hits. The Statue of Liberty loses her head, and the Brooklyn Bridge is awash.
It’s the big pay-off, but the film is not so awful as to kill everyone. Hope spring eternal when stars sacrifice their lives (and careers) to save humanity. If this is a spoiler, we plead guilty.
What a disappointing movie.